EPA says no new rule needed on toxic waste spills

EPA says no new rule needed on toxic waste spills
© Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday that it has determined it does not need to write a new regulation to prevent toxic waste spills into water from chemical plants and other facilities.

The announcement follows a 2016 settlement in which the EPA agreed to formally consider such a regulation under the Clean Water Act for hazardous substances discharges.

“After engaging the public and analyzing the best available data, EPA believes that additional regulatory requirements for hazardous substances discharges would be duplicative and unnecessary,” EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump directs agencies to cut advisory boards by 'at least' one-third Trump directs agencies to cut advisory boards by 'at least' one-third Overnight Energy: Former EPA chiefs say Trump has abandoned agency's mission | Trump in Iowa touts ethanol and knocks Biden | Greens sue Trump over drilling safety rollbacks | FDA downplays worries over 'forever chemicals' MORE said in a statement.

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“If finalized, the proposed rule would give the regulated community the clarity and certainty they need to continue to uphold the law and ensure the nation’s waterways are protected.”

The Environmental Justice Health Alliance and others had sued the EPA in 2015, saying that it never completed its legally required regulatory process on hazardous waste spills as Congress directed four decades ago.

That group slammed the EPA’s decision not to regulate.

“Administrator Pruitt decided again today to side with corporate polluters over the public's health and safety — and especially the health and safety of people of color and low-income families,” Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator of group, said in a statement.

“Protecting our water supplies is an increasingly important priority for Americans, and this decision to do nothing about the countless toxic chemical storage tanks which might poison our water puts our communities at undue risk.”

The petition and lawsuit were spurred in part by the 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River, which harmed Charleston’s drinking water supply.

The EPA will let the public comment on its Thursday decision for 60 days before making it final, at which point opponents can sue.